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The Forward has interviewed former Y.U. high school students who say that Finkelstein abused them as early as 1972 and as late as 1995. They said that current and former Y.U. staff members were aware of abusive behavior by Finkelstein from at least 1984.
It was an open secret in the Modern Orthodox world.
But Finkelstein was never publicly questioned during his 27-year tenure at Y.U.’s high school, during which he rose to become principal, nor during his six years at the Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School, in North Miami Beach, Fla., nor during his 11 years as executive director of the prestigious Jerusalem Great Synagogue.
As the Forward has reported previously, Mordechai Twersky, a former high school student, said he told Y.U.’s then president, Norman Lamm, in 1986 that Finkelstein behaved inappropriately when he wrestled with boys. Twersky said he repeated the allegations to Lamm in 2000. Lamm said he could not recall either of the reports.
Twersky said he also had a conversation with Y.U.’s current president, Richard Joel, about Finkelstein’s abuse in 2001 and wrote to him again a couple of years later.
Now, the Forward has learned of allegations of at least three more occasions when a Y.U. staff or board member was made aware of Finkelstein’s inappropriate behavior.
In 1984, a former student who does not wish to be identified said he was invited to stay overnight at Finkelstein’s home. The student, who had already been wrestled by Finkelstein several times in a school office, told Finkelstein he had a bad back and did not want to wrestle.
“Less than three minutes later, he comes up behind me, grabs both of my shoulders and sticks his knee right into my back, and I went down on the floor, writhing in pain,” said the man, now 44.